Archive for September, 2008

Paul Newman: always had the time to talk…
September 27, 2008

 

WESTPORT, Conn. (AP) — Paul Newman, the Academy-Award winning superstar who personified cool as an activist, race car driver, popcorn impresario and the anti-hero of such films as “Hud,” “Cool Hand Luke” and “The Color of Money,” has died. He was 83.

 

In the days before the super commercialization of car racing Paul Newman was “hands on” prepping his race car. He’d be right in there with his crew. In Las Vegas, at the old Stardust International Raceway, I happened by his pit. I asked him what had happened to his suspension. He got up walked over and explained the problem and what he was going to do about it.  It was a clinic! Our conversation then drifted to my Austin Healey and the quirks of English sports cars. He knew more about my car than I did and of course knew Donald Healey the car’s designer.  So much more to this man than the average actors whom I find most shallow.  This guy got his hands dirty and enjoyed every moment. My kind of screen ledgend!

 

Actor Paul Newman pauses as he listens to the national anthem on pit road prior to the start of the Rolex 24-Hour endurance race at the Daytona International Speedway in this February 5, 2000 file photo. Oscar-winning actor Newman, responding to a flurry of unconfirmed reports that he is gravely ill with cancer, issued a terse, cryptic statement on Tuesday that shed little light on his actual condition. "Newman says he's doing nicely," his spokesman, Jeff Sanderson, said in a message e-mailed to Reuters and other media outlets in answer to queries about the cancer reports. Picture taken February 5, 2000. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

Cool Hand Paul!

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A new world of hurricane coverage.
September 26, 2008

 

 Hurricane Ike near Key West…………We watched it go by and see below, did it safe and sane!

 

 

 INSIDE THE HURRICANE HUMMER!

 

Don’t kid yourself, we hear it from viewers and they are serious when they say they think reporters are pretty stupid standing out in the wind and rain going live with hurricane coverage.  “You guys tells us to take cover, stay inside and there you are getting pounded by waves along sea walls and getting blown over by 60mph gusts.” I have been there and I have heard the complaints.

 

An old time network correspondent told me during Hurricane Andrew, “Hank, they want to see you out in it.”  “They” were the producers and news management folks up and down the network food chain.  The other “they”, the viewers thought it was pretty dumb.

 

There is a solution. I have seen and been a part of the future of Hurricane field reporting.  It is real basic and it is high tech.  WTVJ  News Operations Manager Rob Gibson,   Engineering Manager Jaime Bulnes and Chief Photographer Mike Zimmer wired up the station “Hurricane Hummer” weather promotion vehicle. Here is how Rob describes it:  “We have turned our Hurricane Hummer into a multi-cam, Skype capable, live roaming vehicle.  There are two permanently mounted cameras inside the Hummer, and room on a switcher for many more.  We put a small rack in the back of the vehicle with a switcher and a mixer all of which feed into a laptop which is mounted on top of the rack using a docking station.   The Hummer also comes equipped with 2ghz Digital microwave transmitter and a BGAN Video Sat phone if all else fails.” Skype is an Internet based system that transmits pictures via, in this case, cell phone and is carried by the Internet back to the WTVJ studios. 

 

There you have it. Small format cameras, the ability to transmit three different ways and all snug inside a heavy vehicle that can handle high wind gusts protecting the reporter, cameraman and driver from the elements.

 

We put the Hurricane Hummer to the test during Hurricane Ike’s September 9th, Key West brush by.

 

It was wonderful from a reporter’s perspective. I was out of the elements, no rain coat, I could hear our off air signal and producer  prompts through the IFB, I had my laptop on gathering information, we were able to move at will to locations where there was flooding, and best of all the viewer did not have to see me do what I call “the dance of stupidity” standing out in the brunt of what for Key West was a tropical storm.  Yes, I had the ability to be on camera. Much like our Chopper Six helicopter I could switch camera shots between a “talent camera” and two exterior cameras.  Frankly, it was nice to not be wet for hours on end and beaten up by the elements and in the main out of danger.

 

We did not go into extended coverage. We just produced “hits” for the regular newscasts including a tour right down Duvall Street at 11Pm. Duvall Street is the main drag in Key West. Our pictures showed a darkened but not deserted tourist focal point that is always a critical backdrop for the economic side of hurricane coverage.

 

Where the Hummer/Skype set up will pay benefits is eating up time during wall-to-wall coverage. The ability to move and report  along the way can sure help producers in a go-to situation when reporters tethered to Live trucks or fiber cable drops are searching for new material.  A Skype equipped vehicle can move on, provide new pictures and give the reporter plenty to talk about.

 

The down side: the pictures are not true broadcast quality. However the grainy images give the coverage an urgency that screams: “things are not ordinary. I am sure video quality issues will be solved in short order as technology advances and to tell the truth the viewer does not seem to mind, especially during hurricane coverage.

 

The overall experience was more than satisfactory. No question the viewers noticed. Response was forth coming when I encountered viewers and public official in the wake of Ike. They liked it and were not shy about saying that it was nice that “you did not have to get out in the storm.”  Amen to that!

 

 

“Picture Worth Thousand Words.” –Charley Chan
September 26, 2008

Look at this twosome!  Does it spell trouble for the U.S. in our backyard?  “El Burro” meets the KGB.

Shall we dance?

Maybe it is time to read it again!
September 24, 2008

Maybe someone should pass a few copies of this classic around the halls of Congress and Wall Street.

It explains a lot of stuff going down these days………………

One Last Mission
September 23, 2008

Brothers to the Rescue to sell last airplane to fund Cuban relief effort.

So many lives saved, so much history…………………… 

 

What the Hell Happened?
September 21, 2008

I cry for Dontrell Willis. Massacred again……What is wrong? Is it time for him to go back down, pick up a bat and make the majors as a position player?  He is so much a ballplayer………..this is a tragedy.

So what about the Fat Cats that got us into this?
September 20, 2008

So after the bailout and zillions of tax payer’s shores up the nation’s financial system what happens to the greedy captains of Wall Street that got us into the mess?

Alas in a capitalistic system greed is not punishable, but it is a thought!

Where is Raul?
September 15, 2008

Cuba is flat on its back and Raul Castro is a no show.  Makes me think back to all the assessments that Brian Latell has provided us. Latell, the former CIA guy and expert on Raul Castro, wrote the book “After Fidel” has questioned Raul’s true constitution….. Has Raul taken the bottle? For sure, so far, he has been a no show. His brother, in his hay day, would have been all over the island.

Baby Brother in better times.

Cuba after Ike…

Take Me Home Country Road……..
September 13, 2008

I can still sing “Home Means Nevada”

Hurricane Ike: Familiar Face thanks to Direct TV
September 13, 2008

 

Ike Slams Texas 

It is really a nifty service for viewers if you are following Hurricanes. Direct TV puts up a local tv station coverage of the storms on channel 361. Direct TV had WDSU, New Orleans live during Gustav, now they are carrying KHOU, Houston. I really like coverage from the local stations because they give you a better picture of what is going on simply because the reporters are knowledgeable, know the geography, and frankly have more of a stake in the unfolding drama.  And then a bonus: Dr Neil Frank, well known in Miami as the former director of the National Hurricane Center was on air. Frank recently retired as KHOU’s Chief Meteorologist. The FSU grad was back in the saddle as Ike approached and was on air most of the night.  Neat to watch a pro at work.

Neil Frank at FSU……………

Dr. Neil Frank back to duty for Ike